Italy Reopens Ports to Migrants, Looks at Increasing Migrant Programme Funding

POZZALLO, ITALY - FEBRUARY 19: Refugees and migrants wait on deck of the Spanish NGO Proac
David Ramos/Getty Images

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has granted two migrant transport NGOs permission to drop migrants off in Italian ports as the country looks at renewing funds for a migrant agency previously defunded by Matteo Salvini.

The Italian leader granted port access to the Sea Watch 3 vessel with 119 migrants on board on Tuesday, with the vessel docking at the port of Taranto, while the port of Messina is expected to receive a vessel from the Spanish NGO Open Arms, Il Giornale reports.

“We are happy that our guests can finally step on safe land, but there is still a lot that needs to be changed: Shady deals with Libya, further ad-hoc agreements, EU-funded human rights abuses, this must stop!” Sea-Watch stated on Twitter.

The move comes as Democratic Party (PD) Chamber leader Graziano Delrio announced that the government would be looking at reintroducing the protection system for asylum seekers and refugees (Sprar) that had seen its centres closed and defunded by the security decree of former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini.

Giuseppe Civati, a former member of the PD, said that the Salvini migration and security decrees should be totally abolished and advocated the return of the so-called humanitarian protection residency permit which allows migrants who fail asylum claims because they are not legitimate refugees to remain in the country — a policy that was scrapped by Salvini.

A 2017 report claimed that in 2016 just 2.65 per cent of the migrants who entered Italy were genuine refugees, but 21 per cent were still allowed to remain in the country under the humanitarian protection policy.

While the number of migrants entering Italy was greatly reduced in the first half of 2019, thanks to the pro-border policies of Salvini, the number of new arrivals has risen since Salvini and his League (Lega) party left the government in September of 2019.

“From September to today, considering the immigrants arriving in Taranto, Italy has received 6,249 people. In the previous eight months, with the League in government and more favourable weather conditions for departures, there were 4,976 arrivals,” Salvini said last month.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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